A gunshot-tracking system that helped East Palo Alto police nab three violent gang members in March is going citywide, believed to make the community the first in the United States to have a citywide system.
The system, which has been used in other nearby cities on a limited basis, was tested in East Palo Alto on New Year's Eve 2007, a time when gun-happy celebrants are known to fire weapons into the air to ring in the New Year.
So far, 32 cities across the United States use the "ShotSpotter GLS" to pinpoint illegal discharges of firearms within limited areas of their jurisdictions. The system detects and triangulates the location of gunshots and explosions.
It also records incidents and tracks all accumulated data for crime analysis, enabling law enforcement to develop anti-crime strategies.
East Palo Alto is the first city in the country to use the system citywide, city officials said in a press release.
"The expansion of ShotSpotter citywide will enhance our ability to further reduce gun violence and enhance overall public safety," Police Chief Ron Davis said.
Since its Dec. 31, 2007 inauguration, the system has tracked an average of 30 gunshots per month -- more than 400 since its implementation. Seven suspects were arrested and 10 firearms were discovered, including evidence related to crimes, the release stated.
In one shooting incident, a gunshot victim at Stanford Hospital told medical personnel he was shot in East Palo Alto, but the system proved the shooting did not occur in the city. Investigation determined that the victim accidentally shot himself while committing an armed robbery in another city, police said.
On March 8, three gang members were arrested after a high-speed car chase when the "ShotSpotter" pinpointed gunfire by the suspects, whose car was then spotted by a police officer. The men were arrested after a chase over the Dumbarton Bridge when their car hit a curb and blew out its tires.
East Palo Alto has experienced a rise in shootings in the last year, the most recent on Nov. 5, when a 23-year-old man was wounded in a leg.
The expansion of the "ShotSpotter" system is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice through help from U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.